Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | Enterprise Imaging| May 03, 2017

Agents of Change: iPads On Track To Be Radiologists' BYOD of Choice

iPad, enterprise imaging

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The bring your own device (BYOD) trend offers unprecedented flexibility in radiology. Mobile devices, tuned to suit the user, display medical images anywhere at a moment's notice. There are several advantages to BYODs. Because these devices are tuned the way their owners want, training is not needed. They have already been purchased, so there are no new capital equipment costs. And these devices — because they serve all purposes — have maximum utilization.

For radiologists, few mobile devices are better suited to be a BYOD than the iPad thanks to falling prices, improving resolution and increasing comfort by users with touch screens. The latest delivers "a brighter 9.7-inch Retina display and the best-in-class performance," according to Apple, while being priced substantially less than the previous model.

Even iPads introduced years ago have what radiologists need. For example, ones released in 2013 and later can run iOS 10, Apple's latest and most secure operating system. Launched in late 2015, the cereal-box sized 12.9 inch iPad Pro with its 5.6 million pixels can easily stand in for a laptop. And it's battery can last up to 10 hours. (A new version — the iPad Pro 2 — is expected out later this year.)


Where iPad Fits

The value of iPads as mobile devices and their roles in radiology have been long and widely documented. Its potential to evaluate emergency computed tomography (CT) brain scans was detailed already in an April 2012 issue of Emergency Radiology in which authors concluded that the iPad "allowed satisfactory identification of acute CT brain findings."

More recently, a British Journal of Radiology article (published online Feb. 1, 2016) explored the future role of mobile devices in emergency radiology. Its authors concluded that "the best use of mobile devices is to be available to consult directly with patients about their imaging findings and to the clinical team during rounds and at handover." The Canadian radiologists went on to write that bringing the radiologist to the clinician and patient will help "us to better understand the patient's presentation, educate both the physician and patient, and increase the visibility and value of the radiologist as a member of the clinical care team."

Of the hundreds of radiology apps for mobile devices in general and the iPad specifically, many are for reference or educational use. Notable among them is Radiopaedia, a reference app that accesses an enormous collection of radiology cases and articles. The underlying goal is to create an up-to-date resource of information. But the effect has been to build a community of like-minded radiologists, according to the Radiopaedia.

While this app is for both the iPad and iPhone, a different app — Radiology Assistant for iPad — is built for the tablet. A reviewer wrote "If you are about to take your board exams, this is golden! But also if you are just interested in the true art of diagnostics, this is not only nice but FUN."


Review or Diagnosis?

Whether mobile devices can display images of diagnostic quality is less certain. The resolution of iPads released even five years ago (Retina displays with a 2,048 x 1,536 pixel matrix) rival that of some monitors found in reading rooms.

And authors of a British Journal of Radiology article concluded in June 2015 that "the diagnostic accuracy of radiological interpretation is not compromised by using a tablet computer." They limited their conclusion to the Apple iPad and to CT, MRI, and plain radiography.

Still legal and regulatory issues must be considered along with the technological. When the Food and Drug Administration has shown flexibility regarding the use of mobile devices to display images, it has been conservative. In 2014 the regulatory agency cleared Siemens' sale of syngo.via WebViewer only for reviewing medical images remotely on an iPad.


Caveats And Insights

Often unstated but widely recognized is the ability of radiologists to use iPads to access images remotely and quickly (with nearly instantaneous boot up). While this is good — iPads provide easy access to images and potentially fast responses by physicians — image quality is vulnerable to surrounding conditions.

On the plus side and less appreciated is the potential of using voice recognition, in the form of Siri technology, to dictate reports, as well as video phones via Skype or FaceTime for consultation with referring doctors and patients (capabilities that can be accessed also on Android devices, of course).

All this — particularly in the context of widening consumer adoption of this sleek, easy-to-carry device — argues for the iPad as an agent of change, one that is already in the hands of many who could use it professionally.


Editor’s note: This is the first blog in four-part series on Agents of Change.

Related Content

Acuson Sequoia
News | Ultrasound Imaging | September 12, 2018
Siemens Healthineers announced the first global installation of its newest ultrasound system, the...
DocPanel is a community of US-based academic level subspecialty radiologists
News | Enterprise Imaging | September 12, 2018
Client Outlook, a leading provider of FDA Class II enterprise diagnostic and clinical image viewing solutions,...
Sponsored Content | Case Study | Information Technology | September 07, 2018
Established in 1970, Sovah Health – Martinsville, Va., resides in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains...
Feature | Population Health | September 07, 2018 | By Jeff Zagoudis
Over the last several years in the U.S., healthcare providers have been trying to shift their focus to more preventive...
Sponsored Content | Case Study | Information Technology | September 07, 2018
One of the Northeast’s major teaching hospitals is an international leader in virtually every area of medicine. It has...
The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s.

Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | September 07, 2018
Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate...
Novarad No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction on Gartner Peer Insights VNA Category
News | Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) | September 04, 2018
Novarad Healthcare Enterprise Imaging has taken the highest rated spot on Gartner’s Peer Insights technology review...
LifeImage LITE Application Expands Image Sharing Network to 1,500 Connected Hospitals
News | Enterprise Imaging | September 04, 2018
September 4, 2018 — LifeImage announced that its recently launched application, LITE, has helped to dramatically incr
Greenville Health System Adopts Agfa HealthCare Enterprise Imaging System
News | Enterprise Imaging | August 31, 2018
Agfa HealthCare and Greenville Health System (GHS), South Carolina, announced the successful implementation of a...
Australian Pediatric Healthcare Network Adopts ResolutionMD Viewer
News | Remote Viewing Systems | August 31, 2018
August 30, 2018 — New South Wales, Australia’s Newborn and...